There are more pressing national emergencies than Trump’s wall


By Ollie Gratzinger | Opinions Editor

The good news: There isn’t going to be another government shutdown. At least, not right now.

The bad news: Trump plans to issue a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.

Since the National Emergencies Act was passed in 1976, 58 national emergencies have been declared. Usually, they’re in response to things like a pandemic, such as the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009, or other immediate dangers, like weapons of mass destruction or hostage situations. Trump is using his power not to protect against any real danger, but rather to get his own way — to satisfy a voter base rendered unstable by the month-long shutdown earlier this year.

The president continues to perpetuate falsehoods regarding the necessity and effectivity of a wall. For instance, he cites that crime has not only gone down in El Paso since a fence was constructed, but that the city went from one of the most dangerous cities in the country to one of the safest. Crime statistics from the FBI would beg to differ.

El Paso has never been one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S., according to Construction on the fence in El Paso began in 2008 and was completed in 2009. Between 2007 and 2010, reports that violent crime had actually increased 5.5 percent. From 2006 to 2011, violent crime had increased by roughly 9.6 percent.

He also claims that drugs are coming in with immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally. However, multiple news outlets report that most opioids come into the country through legal points of entry, stashed in cars or trucks interspersed amid regular cargo. Most of the immigrants coming to the border are asylum seekers, not drug lords or cartel members.

Impoverished people, families with children or disadvantaged folks fleeing abusive partners or gang violence don’t pose a threat to the U.S. It isn’t illegal to seek asylum. The U.S. is turning away entire families, sending them to border cities in Mexico to await their court dates. These people have no access to lawyers, and often, nowhere to go.

On Friday, in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said, “I didn’t need to do this.” The “this,” of course, was declaring a national emergency. From his own lips came a confession disguised as a brag. He didn’t need to do this. He only did it to make it faster. More immediate. A national emergency denotes necessity, doesn’t it? It requires the presence of a crisis, and so to make good on his campaign promise, Trump created crises in the minds of Americans — crises that can be proven false with a tired glance at the facts.

Do you want an emergency, Mr. President?

More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017.

About 3,057 people died in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, while the U.S. government stood idly by and even disputed the death toll.

More than half a million Americans experienced homelessness last year.

Roughly 18.5 million people reported deep poverty in 2017, with a household income under 50 percent of the 2017 poverty threshold.

Thousands of migrant children were separated from their parents in 2018, many of which still haven’t been reunited.

Our planet is feverish, choking on smog and fumes.

A measles outbreak took parts of the Pacific Northwest by storm following an upsurge in anti-vax ideas: Rates of declining vaccinations for non-medical reasons have reached a whopping 7.5 percent in the state of Washington.

Hundreds of mass shootings last year took thousands of lives, 11 of which were Pittsburghers slaughtered 15 minutes up the road from Duquesne.

Those are our national emergencies. Those are also the tricky subjects that Trump rarely dares to touch. There has been no federal motion to limit the use of automatic assault weapons. Nothing has been done to help the homeless or the poor. The Trump administration denies and trivializes climate change and no one seems to be concerned with the fact that diseases are returning from dormancy because people aren’t vaccinating their children.

The border wall is the result of focused demagoguery. That’s all it is, and that’s all it ever will be.